18: Backyard: 1954-1990 | Cold War

The United States saw the emergence of leftist movements in different Latin American countries as threatening to its commercial interests, and secretly plotted with military strongmen and middle class interests concerned with the land reforms and nationalisation policies of new governments. In Guatemala Jacobo Arbenz was ousted by a CIA-inspired coup in 1954. Similarly US meddling in Chile's economic and political spheres weakened Salvador Allende grip on power, and he was ultimately deposed by his own military in 1973. The United States sent troops to the Dominican Republic in 1965 and Grenada in 1983, and trained and supported various acquiescent juntas, including a brutal regime in El Salvador. In Nicaragua the United States secretly supported the Contras against the leftist Sandinista government; eventually military actions and economic sanctions push Nicaraguans into voting for anti-Sandinista politician Violeta Chamorro in 1990. Interviewees include Frank Wisner, Hortensia Bussi, Nikolai Leonov, Violeta Chamorro and Daniel Ortega. The pre-credits scene explains that although the USSR avoided intervening in the region, following the Cuban Revolution Castro and Che Guevara sought to spark ''100 Vietnams'' across Latin America by initiating guerrilla movements.

Clip Info
  • Clip length: 46'27''
  • Broadcast year: 1998
Curriculum Connection
  • History | The Cold War

Licence: ERA Licence required


UK only
Staff and students of licensed education establishments only
Cannot be adapted

  • Provider: BBC
  • Channel: BBC Two
  • Programme: Cold War
  • Episode: 18: Backyard: 1954-1990